Policy of Blood and Iron:
Theory of Kingship:
The stern, harsh and violent policy adopted by Balban to suppress the internal revolts and meeting with the challenges posed by foreign invaders of Mongols is known as the policy of blood and iron.
The theory of kingship propounded by Balban led to the adoption of the policy of blood and iron. Balban was convinced that the only way to face the internal and external dangers was to increase the power and prestige of the Sultan (King).
‘Sword’ was the chief weapon of Balban to achieve his objectives. He used this weapon with a great vengeance against his rivals, rebels, robbers, thieves and the invaders. By following this policy, he wanted to create terror in the minds of the people that whosoever dared to challenge the authority of the Sultan, he would not be spared.
On account of this policy he was able to remain at the helm of affairs for about 40 years i.e. 20 years as the Naib/Prime Minister of Nasir-ud-din Mohmud and then after as the Sultan of Delhi. He executed his policy of blood and iron very successfully and raised the prestige and power of the Sultan in the eyes of the nobles and his subjects.
Main principles of Balban’s theory of Kingship:
Main principles of the theory of Kingship were as under:
1. Divine right of Kings:
Balban said that the king was the representative of God on the earth and Kingship was a divine institution. He declared this to make the nobles believe that he got the crown or the Kingship not through their mercy but by the mercy of God.
2. Royal descent:
Balban realized that people at that time believed that it was only the prerogative of the ancient royal families to rule and exercise power, he therefore declared that he was the descendant of the legendary Turkish warrior Afrasiyab and that circumstances only had made him a slave.
3. King as a despot:
He said to his son Bughra Khan that “Kingship is the embodiment of despotism”. He believed that it is the “King’s superhuman awe and status which can ensure people’s obedience.
4. Word of difference between descendants of noble lineage and commoners:
Historian Zia-ud-Din Barni has gone to the extent of remarking that whenever Balban saw a man of low birth, his eyes started burning with rage and anger and his hands reached his sword to murder him. This view seems to be on the extreme side. However this much is believable that because of this outlook of Balban, he dismissed all officials not born of noble families, from all important posts.
5. Recognition of tripartite relationship:
Balban emphasized the relationship between God and the Sultan, Sultan and the people and the God and the people. He considered himself the representative of God on the earth to look after the welfare of the people—people created by God. Accordingly he emphasized that treasury should be used for the benefit of his subjects. Likewise the king should be impartial in dispensing justice.
Practical measures to translate the theory of Kingship into operation:
1. Decorum and grandeur of the court:
Balban enforced strict discipline in the court. No one was allowed to indulge in humour or loose talk. He maintained considerable distance from the courtiers. He prescribed the court dress.
2. Adoption of several ceremonies:
Balban introduced the practice of ‘Sijada’ in which the people were required to kneel and touch the ground with their forehead in salutation to the king.
3. Appointment of guards:
Balban appointed fearsome and tall guards who were to stand round the king’s person with naked swords in their hands. Whenever he used to go outside the palace, his bodyguards marched with him with naked swords and shouting ‘Bismillah-Bismillah.’
4. Following Persian traditions:
Balban was convinced that the glory of Kingship was possible only by following the Persian traditions and he very carefully followed these traditions in his personal and public life. He named his grandsons on the pattern of Persian kings. He introduced several Persian etiquettes in his court.
5. Always reserved:
Balban never expressed unusual joy or sorrow in public. It is said that even when the news of the death of his eldest son, Mohammad was conveyed to him, he remained unmoved and carried on the administrative work though in his private apartment, he wept bitterly.
6. Strong army:
These is no doubt that a strong army is needed for the sustenance of a powerful monarch. Balban, therefore, strengthened his army.
7. Policy of blood and iron:
A strong and absolute monarch is expected to follow a strict policy in dealing with his enemies. Balban accordingly adopted this policy.
8. Protection from foreign invaders:
The strength of a despotic ruler is also measured by his ability to protect his subjects from external danger. Balban in this regard took effective steps.
Impact/Achievements of Balban:
Baiban’s theory of Kingship coupled with his policy of blood and iron paid him good dividends. He enhanced the prestige of the Sultan. He crushed the powers of his opponents. He brought about peace and order. He saved the country from the invasions of the Mongols.